10.23.2009

"Stripes/Solids" at Paula Cooper Gallery

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What you see when you walk in:
Sherrie Levine's Untitled (Broad Stripe:6), 1985, casein and wax on mahogany, 24 x 20 inches, with Ellsworth Kelly's Green Panel in the distance

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With an economy of words, the description of Stripes/Solids on the Paula Cooper Gallery website says simply: "The works in this show, dating from 1962 to 2008, embody a clarity and resolution of line, color and form through simple gestures."
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I would add that there's a strong sense of materiality here, from the wax in Sherrie Levine's Untitled (Broad Stripe: 6), which you see when you walk in, to Brice Marden's wax and oil monochromes, to Jan J. Schoonhoven's stacked cardboard with the corrugated edges forming the surface structure, to Rudolf Stingel's enormous styrofoam relief. There's also an unexpected river of blue and green that runs through the gallery. .

We're going to tour the large main gallery and then peek into the smaller front room that faces the street. To orient you, the Dan Walsh painting, below, is on the other side of the wall from Levine's. Stripes/Solids is up through October 31..
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Dan Walsh, Gray Field, 2008, acrylic on canvas, 55 x 90 inches; Brice Marden, Trade Painting 2, 1974-64, beeswax and pigment on canvas, two panels overall 50 x 30 inches
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Marden's painting; Robert Mangold, Brown Ellipse/Gray Green Frame, 1988-89, acrylic and pencil on canvas, two panels overall 74.5 x 137.75 inches
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Mangold's painting; Rudolf Stingel, Untitled, 1999, carved styrofoam, 120 x 192 x 4 inches; Jan J. Schoonhoven, R 77-3, 1977, corrugated cardboard on wood
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Stingel's sculpture; Ellsworth Kelly, Green Panel, 1980, oil on canvas, 72 x 88 inches
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Kelly's painting; work by Anne Truitt and Josef Albers, described below
Below: Truitt's Breeze, 1978, acrylic on wood, 60.24 x 5.5 x 4 inches; Albers's Study to Homage to the Square: Vernal, 1978, oil on masonite, 17 7/87 x 17 7/8
(Barely visible in the front gallery: a painting by Agnes Martin )
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In the street-facing front gallery: Agnes Martin, Untitled #10, 1994, acrylic and graphite on canvas, 60 1/8 x 60 1/8. (Even here the work is barely visible.)

Below, on the wall opposite Martin: John McLaughlin, #8, 1966, oil on canvas, 40 x 60 inches



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In this museum-quality exhibition, with one work per artist, the spare installation provides an opportunity to immerse yourself in each work while finding yourself in the middle of visual conversations between the geometric elements. It turns out there's a lot going on with these "simple gestures." As a title, Stripes/Solids is something of an understatement.
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3 comments:

Anonymous said...

If Paula Cooper Gallery is a Holy Reliquary (which I think it is) then these are the Holy Relics (which Art History has proven). I love it!

Douglas Witmer said...

Heading up for my trip to Chelsea a few weeks ago, I didn't have any awareness of what I was going to see. I just picked up the Gallery Guide and went from there. This show was a highlight. Here's what I scribbled in my notebook:
--LEVINE!
--Martin way more brush activity than you ever remember
--WALSH!
--Marden aged or damaged...looks tired compared to Mangold and Kelly...would expect Mardens to remain pristine
--like how work hung low...I can address face to face.
--Kelly always fresh
--Truitt always a conundrum...her paint not working for me today

Joanne Mattera said...

Douglas,

Thanks for these observations. I agree with many of your points, chief among them, "Levine!" And the height is absolutely the perfect way to see a show: eye level.

One of the things that happens for me when I see a lot of art in short bursts--which is how I tend to see it, then I write about it over time--is that I really appreciate the beautiful installation. This museum-quality installation of museum-quality work really did it for me.

BTW, I loved the conversation between Truitt and Albers. Partly it was the palette--cream and spring green--but they shared a geometry that was compelling.

The conversation between McLaughlin and Martin, facing each other in the front gallery, was different. McLaughlin was terse; Martin was talking, but in her usual whisper. An interesting "eavesdrop" for sure.